All Book Reviews by Genre: Horror

The Drawing of the Three
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While it took me a while to get used to The Gunslinger , I was able to dive right in with The Drawing of the Three as I continue reading this Dark Tower series. Personally, I think the simplicity of the story and the immediacy of the danger helped to hook me from the start. Unlike the first book in the series, The Drawing of the Three has a solid set of relatable characters that are introduced just fast enough to get used to their unique personal challenges. If anything, these individuals piqued my interest, and I’m curious to see where their story goes from here.

One aspect of this book I found to be extremely entertaining was the action sequences. When there were stakes on the line, and things had to happen, the resulting action in these plot-moving points was both intense and hilarious. Generally, I am not much of a fan of the “fish out of water” approach to characters, but King makes it work here with The Gunslinger traveling back and forth between the worlds to take advantage of our modern wonders that help him survive in the fantastical world of the Dark Tower.

I also have to give kudos to the narrator of this work, Frank Muller, as his voice acting brought every character to vibrant life via their accents and verbal tics. I had no doubt who was speaking as he wove the story through his reading. Although, the one qualm I had with this book was that one of the characters was a bit grating on the nerves. While this added some excellent conflict to the story, it was annoying having to hear their manic voice for as long as I had to. I’m just glad that they weren’t the first character pulled into the Gunslinger’s world. Otherwise, I don’t know how I could have kept listening.

A superior and straightforward story in the Dark Tower series, I give The Drawing of the Three 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Roadwork
Bachman, Richard
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I wasn’t aware of Stephen King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym until I picked up this book to read on a whim. While it’s clear all of King’s technical prowess is still present in Bachman’s work, the “king of horror” gained a chance to write outside his genre. Of course, King has done this before with a few different books (like Hearts in Atlantis , The Green Mile , and The Dark Tower series), but writing under a pseudonym seemed to unleash an amount of cynicism I’ve hardly seen in King’s writing before.

Written in the early 1980s, Roadwork exhibits all the identifying marks of a cynic who has been over-saturated with consumerism. The need to have a job to support a family by buying a house that needs to be filled with the accouterments of modern living is a bit too much for some people. This is especially true for those who don’t quite meet the standard of the "American dream” in their own mind and have no other course other than to wallow in self-pity. By now, it’s practically a tale as old as the industrial revolution. Unfortunately, this means Roadwork doesn’t stand out much in my mind as an original story.

Perhaps Roadwork was one-of-a-kind back when King wrote it, but I doubt that was the case. Heck, the beat poets of the ‘60s and ‘70s certainly wrote about separating themselves from the toxic consumerism shoved down their throats. Roadwork almost felt like a “paint by number” novel that covered all the basic items in a story of this kind, checking each box until it reaches its obvious and inevitable conclusion. While it was nice to read something by Stephen King that wasn’t necessarily beholden to the fame of his name, I’m not sure if I would have read it if he wasn’t attached to it at all.

A so-so cynical work that is hardly original enough to mention, I give Roadwork 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Brooks, Max
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Max Brooks is an agent of the United Nations, tasked with collecting the stories of those who lived through the Zombie War. Having broken out when a young Chinese boy was bitten while swimming, it spread through illegal organ and human trafficking, hidden by governments, until a massive outbreak occurs in South Africa, shining a light in a plague that would bring humanity to the brink of extinction. Max Brooks’ World War Z chronicles the stories of people from all walks of life, from military scientists, to blind old Japanese men, to astronauts aboard the ISS, and their stories of how they survived the terrors of the assault of the living dead.

Reviewer's Name: Ryan P.
Awards:
Song for the Unraveling of the World
Evenson, Brian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

At the beginning of this year, one of my reading goals was to try a new genre. The short story genre is the genre I never new I needed until I read this book. The strength of short stories, in my opinion is the ability of the author to do a lot within a small amount of space; creating strong character development, great world building and meaningful messages within each story.

Within a few pages Everson manages to create character driven stories that are terrifying, full of paranoia and delusion and at the same time haunting and beautiful. From a girl without a face, to a therapist who never leaves his patience alone, to a film director willing to do anything to get the perfect final scene, these stories evoke a sense of fear and explores exactly what we will do to fulfill our most inhuman impulses. These stories provide a great introduction to a genre I now love. I can’t wait to see what else Everson does, he is definitely one to watch. Thank you to Eidelweiss and Coffee House press for the Digital Review Copy for review!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Nightflyers
Martin, George R. R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Those who are familiar with George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series may be lamenting the end of the semi-faithful Game of Thrones television show. In the time we’ll all have to wait until the next Song of Ice and Fire book comes out, there are other little stories from this author to satiate our appetite. Nightflyers is a short novella by Martin that also seems to be hinging itself on the success of Game of Thrones, albeit in the science fiction genre instead of high fantasy.

Considering how verbose Martin can get with his works, it was almost refreshing to read a story that was so focused and short. Granted, even though Nightflyers is science fiction, all of the notable George R.R. Martin elements were present: mainly, sex and violence. Depending on your tolerance of these elements, I can say that they’re at least naturally integrated with this novella. Martin certainly seemed to have an adequate grasp of sci-fi to give this story a satisfying twist that drove the plot into the denouement.

Without giving too much away, I did appreciate the science (and pseudo-science) that was used to create an interesting story. Or, at least, the story was written in such a way—with a dash of horror sprinkled in to engage the reader—that prevented me from being bored with it. If it had been expanded out into a full-size book, I’m sure I could see where plenty of fluff could have been added in to reach the required word count. In the end, I’m glad that Martin kept this short, which works primarily to the story’s benefit.

A quintessential George R.R. Martin sci-fi novella, I give Nightflyers 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It's been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she's still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii. Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer. Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

"There's Someone Inside Your House" is a compelling book that at times feels impossible to put down. Stephanie Perkins excels at writing fast reads and this book is no exception. Being my first time reading one of her books I have to say that I wasn't disappointed, but I also wasn't won over. If your looking for a complex horror novel, this is not the book for you. It's murder plot is very straightforward and its essentially about a serial killer terrorizing a town. The beginning of the book was my favorite part, the murders were slow and calculated, each one more interesting then the last and the characters were brand new so I was still suspicious about all of them. Not knowing who I could trust made the beginning my favorite part, but once the killer is revealed and the action starts to speed up my interest began to decrease. My main problems with the book was the serial killer's baffling motivation and lackluster reveal. I also thought Makani's mysterious past was brought up way too much to be believable. In almost every chapter she worries "do they know about my past?" "could he have found out what I've done?" and when it actually is revealed what she did, her constant worry seems all the more unrealistic. I wished her two friends would have been more developed, especially Darby. I felt like they were both pushed to the background to make way for Ollie's development. That being said I did enjoy Alex, Darby's, Makani's interaction/friendship. And I think Makani makes an interesting protagonist. Her mysterious past adds intrigue and any references to her childhood in Hawaii feel genuine and well-researched. Ollie is also unique and likeable. All in all it was different sort of book for me, I doubt hardcore mystery or horror fans would enjoy it, but if your looking for a simple YA slasher then I think you would enjoy this.

Reviewer's Name: Zion
Carrie
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have telekinesis powers? Well ''Carrie'' by Stephen King is for you. ''Carrie'' follows the life of teenager Carrie White at her home and school. With the bullying at school and her fanatically pious mother, strange occurrences start happening around Carrie. She begins to suspect that she has supernatural powers. Invited to the prom by the empathetic Tommy Ross, Carrie tries to let her guard down, but things eventually take a dark and violent turn.

I chose to read ''Carrie'' because it is well planned and full of thoughtful writing and wit. It also shows the life of a un-respected teen in high school. I enjoyed the fact that ''Carrie'' used ''news reports'' shown earlier to the reader to for-shadow to what might happen later. ''Carrie'' was also written to take place in 1979. I also enjoyed how after the climax, the author provided how the town recovered from her wreckage. One point of the book that I felt was unnecessary was how the antagonist, Chris Hargensen planned revenge on Carrie. If you enjoy horror films or books, read or watch ''Carrie'' today!

Reviewer's Name: Marley T.
Genres:
A Monster Calls
Ness, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows a young boy who watches his mother struggle against cancer. He is visited by a monster who transforms from a tree into a walking, talking being, and he begins to take advice from the monster. He lets the monster be what he feels and thinks about the situation his mother is in; if he is angry, the monster prompts the boy to punch another boy. The monster is a representation of his anxieties and inability to cope with reality.
However, the monster is also a companion and an outlet for the boy. The monster is a way for the boy to express all of his emotions and to talk out the struggles he is facing. At times, he appreciates the monster, and other times, he hates the points the monster bring up.

This book is very complex in its analysis of suffering and coping mechanisms, and is a truly wonderful read. While sad, the message of the book and the realizations the reader has make the point a phenomenal representation of human nature, and the monster a representation of all that people keep bottled up inside. Ultimately inspiring, I would recommend this book for anyone interesting in a deeper understanding of the human reaction to grief, loss, or conflict. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Genres:
Doll Bones
Black, Holly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Doll Bones" by Holly Black is about three friends who go on a journey to return a haunted doll to her grave after taking it out of one of their mom's china cabinets. Zach, Poppy, and Alice play a role-play game in which the doll is "the queen'. The doll is made from a young girl's bones and her wishes are to be returned with her family at the grave site so all three of them go on an extensive journey to do so. In the process Zach, Poppy, and Alice meet strange people which leads them to almost give up.

I would recommend this book. "Doll Bones" was really fun to re-read and was just as exciting as the first. Originally, I read the book for Battle of the Books in third grade but I read it again because I liked it. I couldn't relate to the characters however I think other people could. "Doll Bones" is not predictable and was not the best book I have read this year despite it still being a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
American Psycho
Ellis, Bret Easton Ellis
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Psycho is a bitter, biting satire about consumerism, and the dark side of the American Dream. The story follows Patrick Bateman who works on Wall Street. He is charming, handsome, and rich. He is also a murderer and a psychopath. We follow him as he falls further and further down the rabbit hole as he becomes more consumed with wealth and money. The satire is biting, the humor dark, and Patrick Bateman feels like a real character that is both relatable and hated by the reader at the same time. This book is amazing. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a great book to read.

Be prepared for some shocking scenes, though!

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein", a young ambitious scientist decides to play God and, in the process, creates a monster. As the monster struggles with self-identity and the meaning of his life, he enacts revenge on his creator by destroying everything he loves. Any time you dive into a classic novel, it can be difficult to keep your expectations from getting too high. This novel met pretty much all of mine -- the rich character development of both Frankenstein and the monster, the excellent use of suspense and foreboding to create tension, and the well-paced action. There were definitely some slow parts, but that's mostly because the writing style has changed so much between then and now. However, the multiple perspectives helped keep things moving when they began to slow down. I really enjoyed this novel but I had one fairly big complaint: the ending felt rushed. I felt that we were building up to a much more action-packed ending, but things fizzle out very quickly and the novel ends on a strangely unsatisfying note. I think that there could've been more time spent creating a strong conclusion to a really strong story. Besides that, this classic is excellent and definitely worth a read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:
World War Z
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After finding myself slighlty underwhelmed by the movie; the book proved a welcome change. World War Z manages to capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse trope while still remaining original. The story is told through chronological, short, personal naratives and expertly paints a large picture of disaster while continuing to feel intimate. People in the story act realistically and despite revolving around a fantastical event, the book always seems like a series of believable recounts. The story replaces continuous characters with a narrative of humanity as a whole and the reader become invested in this larger concept. Overall, the book is an entertaining read and completely worth the time.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
The Exorcist
Blatty, William Peter
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the greatest horror novels of all time, The Exorcist was a genre-defining piece of literature. It's story has set the precedent for horror, and is the novel that essentially invented the modern possession in horror. It's story follows Chris MacNeil as she struggles to get help for her daughter, who has been possessed by a powerful demon. The book is intense; it moves at a breakneck pace, and is truly terrifying. What makes it scary is the premise: someone you love being invaded by an unknown being that you do not understand. This idea is consistent throughout the whole novel -- in the first half or so, her condition is thought to be scientific in nature, but is soon proven to be false. What do you do when you have a problem, but do not know how to fix it? This question is concurrent with the novel, and forces us to face humanities greatest fear: the unknown. I would highly recommend this novel to horror fans, or anyone who is looking for a truly terrifying read to keep them up at night.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Bellairs, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you like mystery stories with a bit of payback! well then this is the book for you. and the best part is this book has ghosts and magic! so please read about this epic quest to find the one clock that was once lost long ago. Magic!

Reviewer's Name: Chess
The House with a Clock in its Walls
Bellairs, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There is evil afoot in this book about a fat young boy whose parents both died in a car accident leaving him to live with his strange uncle who lives in a mansion with secrets. An uncle being driven insane by a clock's incessant ticking countered by a strange neighbor who makes excellent chocolate chip cookies. The adventure is just beginning. Into a cemetery, are the dead rising? A car chase all across the county and an eclipse of the moon. A house that grows defenses? Windows that change on their own? Read this book and find out not just what the evil is, but to determine which is better, the book or the movie?

Reviewer's Name: Rachel
At the Mountains of Madness
Lovecraft, H. P.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

H.P. Lovecraft is commonly known as one of the titans of horror, one of the pioneers of the genre who influenced people such as Stephen King, and has even inspired several video games, such as Bloodborne. At the Mountains of Madness is considered Lovecraft's magnum opus, his best work to date. It is a novella telling the story of a small group of geologists, aviators, and explorers who travel to Antarctica in search of unique rock specimens. While there, however, they encounter several horrors, including unearthing ancient specimens known as Old Ones, a decadent, purely weird city built by the Old Ones themselves, and even giant albino penguins. This novella is truly horrifying, as the suspense Lovecraft is able to build through usage of the setting is gripping. If one is looking to begin reading Lovecraft books, this one is a great entry point, as it introduces the reader to the Old Ones, the Necronomicon, and even Cthulhu himself. I would recommend to anyone who loves horror novels, or anyone who wants to read Lovecraft.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Rules
Holder, Nancy
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Rules, by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie, is a great thriller but lacks much else. The focus of the book is on the plot, but it's just an average thriller plot. None of the characters are developed over the course of the book, and it doesn't have enough clues to be a mystery. I felt like the author could've expanded for on the theme of rules, but it was a good idea. The book just kinda lacks sustenance, although it does provide a pretty good thriller experience. I would recommend this book to an avid thriller fan, but not really anyone else.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After
Hockensmith, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While the original Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a combination most
people never knew they needed, apparently making it into a trilogy was the
next logical conclusion. Combined with the prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls ,
Dreadfully Ever After puts the series to rest with a sequel that seems to
re-hash a lot of similar ideas presented in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,
but with enough connection to the prequel and at least one or two original
ideas that helped to round out the characters. These new ideas were logical
extrapolations from the events that concluded Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies, so they weren’t necessarily shocking, but still entertaining to
pull the thread nonetheless.

I think, overall, I prefer the prequel and sequel to the original
Austen/monster mashup. It probably helped that both were written by the same
author, who was essentially writing fan fiction based on the idea that this
romantic classic could be combined with the undead. Dawn of the Dreadfuls had
the problem of needing to set up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, thereby
negating any dire threats to the main characters since they would need to
appear in the next book. However, Dreadfully Ever After does an excellent job
of adding the complexities of marriage in proper English society in the
zombie apocalypse to the mixture. Thus, this book expanded the universe
instead of just poking around its never quite fully-explained origins.

In fact, one might be able to read the books on either side of Pride and
Prejudice and Zombies and get a coherent and satisfying story out of it. I,
for one, struggled through Austen’s writing, so the more modern style
presented in Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After was a welcome
change. Plus, with the ability to stray from the source material and add
additional characters in both “bookend” books, there is a continuity that
is satisfying to conclude in this book. In the end, though, the two books
that expand the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies universe don’t ever take
themselves that seriously and are a fun and silly read for anyone who had a
passing fancy to get into the topic.

A fitting and silly extrapolation of the idea that Jane Austen’s book
needed more gore and violence, I give Dreadfully Ever After 4.0 stars out of
5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Family Plot
Priest, Cherie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book provides a unique twist on the classic haunted house story. A salvage crew combs through an ancient house to save its architectural treasures before the house is demolished. The crew’s presence disturbs more than dust though, as a vicious spirit starts to attack the crew, who had made the unfortunate decision to sleep in the house to save on their budget. If they abandon the job, it could mean the end of the family business, but staying gets increasingly unbearable. I think I read this book entirely over the course of a few nights – I didn’t want to put it down! Hollywood has been notorious for sequels and prequels of established “brands”. I highly suggest that they snap up the movie rights for The Family Plot, and give their audience something rich and original.

Reviewer's Name: Chris
Genres:
Frankenstein
Shelly, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The classic tale of mystery and horror is also one that is an extremely entertaining read. While it may not be the scariest novel ever, the mere ideas that it presents are certain to make one a bit uneasy. The plot is iconic: Victor Frankenstein, aspiring philosopher and scientist, creates a horrifying monster out of dead bodies and reanimates it from the dead. The monster then goes on a murderous rampage after being rejected by his very creator. The novel is very good, and the message it presents, of not overreaching for knowledge, is a timeless one. The only downside to this icon of horror is that some chapters tend to drag, and have little purpose. However, this is not a huge detriment since the rest of the novel is so entertaining. I would recommend to thriller or horror enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:

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